” This work is a continuation of the Life of Mahomet. Taking up the thread from his death and burial, it tells the story of the spread of the Religion which he founded, and seeks to trace the special causes – national, tribal, and spiritual – which moulded the Faith, created its expansive power, and guided its onward. progress. The object is, in short, to float the bark of Islam over the rapids and devious currents of its its early course until, becoming more or less subject to Jordinary human influences, it emerges on the great stream of time. I have, therefore, given the first four Caliphates.in full detail; I have endeavoured to explain the ascendency of the Omeyyad house; and then, briefly showing how the Abbasside dynasty rose upon its ruins, my purpose being ended, I close the book. Thereafter the history of Islam spreads itself out into the history of the world.
The materials for the work will be understood by the reader as he goes along. They are purely Arabian. Christian authorities there are absolutely none to speak of. We depend entirely upon Mahometan tradition; and that in a form very different from what we have been accustomed to in the Life of Mahomet. The substance of tradition becomes, after the PROPHET’S death, more of a general outline; altogether wanting (excepting some of the special episodes) in that profuse detail with which the life of Mahomet is overlaid […] ”
– Preface, abstract